The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
New Zealand mare Zurella is the early favourite in the 2012 Naturalism Stakes which stands as a crucial race at Caulfield on Saturday.
The winner of the Naturalism is important as it provides 2012 Caulfield Cup ballot exemption to the winner and as such has attracted a full field.
Of the field only outsider Norsqui ($81.00) is qualified on the basis of his win in the Mornington Cup in February with the other 17 fighting for a berth in the prestigious staying race.
Zurella is rated a $4.60 chance at bookmaker.com.au to back up her first-up win this weekend after a particularly impressive Australian soil debut.
With Craig Newitt aboard the New Zealand Oaks runner-up was dominant when winning the Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes at Flemington earlier this month.
Anthony Freedman-trained import Fruehling ($5.50) is second in the market but is first emergency and will only gain a start if one of top 16 is withdrawn.
Only two other horses fall under double figures with Michael Moroney-trained Shenzhou Steeds and Ciaron Maher-trained five-year-old Mr O’Ceirin both rated as $6.00 chances.
Shenzhou Steeds was dominant when winning both the Ipswich and Caloundra Cups during the winter and made a promising return when sixth first-up in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
One horse in the field to taste recent success is Slickpix Stakes winner Cuban Sunday ($17.00) who will come from barrier 15.
The market is cluttered around the double-figure range with Exceptionally, Folding Gear and Sea Galleon all being offered at $10.00.
Other horses in the Naturalism Stakes market include Adelaide Cup winner Rialya ($31.00) and the Bart Cummings-trained Budai ($61.00).
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